How to avoid a Trojan phone? Don’t buy a clone!


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Chinese smartphone manufacturers are under scrutiny at the moment due to the Trojan found in the Star N9500 smartphone. But Chinese phones are safe and the chances of getting a Trojan are unlikely especially if you follow these steps.

If you had missed the news then let my quickly fill you in. A German security firm recently revealed that the popular Star N9500 smartphone had been purposely infected with a Trojan that could not be detected by the end-user and was able to take control of your phone and grab personal details. Obviously, the Chinese phone market is not looking as great to shoppers due to the scandal, but the chances of this happening to you are slim if you shop wisely.

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Although upsetting, we are hardly surprised that a company such as Star, or more likely the factory producing the OEM Star branded phones, have turned out to be less than trustworthy. Star have been one of a large number of Chinese phone makers, who from the start, have made a living producing clones of big brand phones (the Star N9500 Trojan device was a Samsung Galaxy S4 clone).

Over the years we have posted news about clone and knock off devices but we have never once suggested that you buy one, and this Trojan scandal is part of what we were worried about. The big issue is not with the brands promoting or selling the phones, but the lack of control these brands have over the factories. It is highly likely that Star knew nothing about the Trojan, as they just placed orders to have their name stamped on phone boxes.

How to avoid a Trojan phone?

So, the big issues is how do you avoid a Trojan phone? Well like with anything it just comes down to being a savvy shopper and choosing carefully, but you can also ask yourself this question: “If a company is dishonest enough to make a fake phone, are they trustworthy enough to have access to your Google account, contacts and control of your camera?” The answer should be “No”.

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Although it is fun to read news of fake iPhones, Galaxy S5’s and so on my advice to anyone wanting to get one would be “don’t”. Either save up and buy the real thing or buy a phone from a trusted manufacturer with the specs you want at the price you are happy to pay.

How to find a trusted Chinese phone maker?

Chinese phone makers fall under many categories from global giants, to up and coming start-ups to small companies that just buy in from factories and rebrand phones as their own.It’s this last type of phone maker you should be most wary of especially if they deal in clones, or fake devices.

Companies such as ZTE, Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi, Vivo, Meizu, etc are all huge corporations and it isn’t in their best interests to infect your phone. Smaller brands like DOOV, OnePlus, Zopo, Jiayu, iOcean, Nubia etc are either owned by one of the larger companies or are huge in their own right in China and again aren’t likely to destabilise themselves with a scandal like this.

The only companies which should really be avoided are the ones like Star. This company had a huge audience internationally but were totally unknown in China. They also tended to fly under the radar rather and never attempted to promote themselves on blogs or with official fan pages. If a manufacturer is doing this there is obviously a reason they don’t want to be noticed. The Star N9500 scandal is a huge blow to the Chinese phone industry, and for the less savvy phone customers around the world it will like mean they won’t by a Chinese phone, but to the more techy customer who understands Chinese phones and the brands, this news will hardly make a difference to us.

What are your thoughts on Chinese phones after this scandal? are you still willing to buy a clone phone knowing the risks?

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